This article examines the role of majoritarian identity politics in soft authoritarian attacks on democracy. Drawing on examples from France and Poland, we argue that in their struggle for cultural and political hegemony, right-wing actors use strategies like the demonisation of emancipatory politics, the problematization of difference and self-victimisation of ‘racial’ or ethnoreligious majorities.
Highlighting three political buzzwords (namely séparatisme, islamo-gauchisme and wokisme), our first case study traces shifts in French public discourse towards a conjunction and normalization of islamophobe, racist and anti-intellectual stances. Ethnographic observations about recent anti-LGBT discourses and restrictive border policies in Poland showcase the mobilization of political affects to transform the body politic into an exclusive identarian moral community.
We close the article with a pledge to take seriously current attempts to redefine Europe as a closed formation with a fixed essence and stable identity.
Keywords: Soft Authoritarianism, Majoritarian Identity Politics, Moral Community, Migration and Border Regimes, Political Affects, Discourse Analysis, Ethnography